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Top 10 Worst Man United Signings in the Premier League Era

Alexis Sanchez - worst ever Man United signing
Artwork by thelittleforty

Manchester United, the most successful English club in Premier League history, achieved resounding success under Sir Alex Ferguson. Them days seem like a distant memory as the has club struggled on the pitch with a top four finish now set as their main aim. Their downfall is tied to poor decision making by the owners, signing players for huge sums without any long term strategy to mount a serious challenge for the title. Below we put together a list of the 10 worst Man United signings of all time, given their recent 6-1 defeat to Spurs this list might be changing soon!

1. Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez’s move to Manchester was seen as a massive coup for the club. Ed Woodward happily shelled out £505,000 in weekly wages to beat off competition from Man City.  The wages were based on Sanchez’s excellent stint at Arsenal, where he averaged just under a goal every two games. In Manchester United colours though, he looked a shell of his former self. The Chilean went on to score five times in 45 games, a meek return on a £41 million expense. Sanchez ended his nightmare spell when he moved to Inter Milan on a free transfer.

2. Bebe

Still scratching my head as to why United squandered £7.4 million on a little-known Portuguese attacker based on a handful of games with Vitória de Guimarães. Fergie had never seen him play and stated former assistant, Carlos Queiroz recommended him to the club. Bebe stayed for four seasons but made only 2 league appearances and spent most of his time out on loan. Those spells were underwhelming to say the least and the player was eventually sold to Benfica for a fee worth up to €3 million. Currently, Bebe is plying his trade with Rayo Vallecano in the Segunda Division.

3. Massimo Taibi

Brought in for £4.5 million from Venezia to replace the legendary Peter Schmeichel between the sticks. His debut was against bitter rivals Liverpool where despite an early error, he made a number of fine saves en route to United’s 3-2 win. But he failed to grab his chances and was dubbed as ‘The Blind Venetian’ by a renowned outlet following his horror show against Southampton. Taibi made only four appearances in his six-month spell before being loaned out to Reggina in January.

4. Kleberson

Kleberson was the driving force behind Brazil’s incredible 2002 World Cup triumph and attracted interest from elite clubs throughout Europe. Manchester United wrapped up a £6.5m deal with Atlético Paranaense for the then 24-year-old midfielder but he struggled to adapt to the English game. He recently revealed he only joined the club because former teammate Ronaldinho told him he would be joining the club soon. Kleberson was eventually sold to Besiktas for €2.95 million after making only 20 league appearances.

5. Eric Djemba-Djemba

Djemba-Djemba completed a dream move from Ligue 1 outfit Nantes for a fee of £3.5 million and was considered as a potential successor for an ageing Roy Keane. The Cameroon international, thought to be yet another masterstroke of Ferguson, failed miserably in English football and only played 20 league games in 18 months before moving to Aston Villa. The £1.5 million transfer to Villa Park did not work out either and the midfielder never managed to live up to his full potential. Djemba-Djemba is still in the game, playing in the Swiss fifth tier with FC Vallorbe-Ballaigues. 

6. Juan Sebastián Verón

A famous name in Argentine football spent the worst spell of his career in England when he completed a £24.3 million switch from Lazio. It was the most expensive transfer in English football back then, but Veron couldn’t adjust to the pace of the Premier League and struggled through injuries during his two-year stint. He scored 7 goals in 51 appearances and was offloaded to Chelsea who spent £15 million to buy his services. His fortunes didn’t change at Stamford Bridge and Inter Milan were happy to take him on loan. 

7. Owen Hargreaves

The Canadian-born midfielder progressed through the academy ranks at Bayern Munich and completed a £17 million switch to Manchester United in 2007. His first season was successful, playing a key role in helping the club win both the Premier League and Champions League. But the following three seasons were injury-riddled and Hargreaves only made 27 league appearances in four seasons. Basically, his body was made of plastic, but he didn’t retire after leaving and somehow convinced Man City to sign him on a short-term deal.

8. Gabriel Obertan

The little-known Bordeaux winger was a surprise £3 million transfer to Old Trafford. The winger made 14 league appearances before leaving for Newcastle United two years later. Ferguson managed to recoup the money but the player failed to impress for the Magpies and joined Turkish outfit BB Erzurumspor last summer after spells with Anzhi Makhachkala, Wigan Athletic and Levski Sofia.

9. Ángel Di María

The catastrophe under David Moyes did not stop the Red Devils from attracting household names as they snapped up Angel Di Maria for £59.7 million – another record signing at that time. Prior to joining, he played a key role in Real Madrid’s Champions League triumph but failed to replicate his form under Louis van Gaal. The attacker left for Paris Saint-Germain the following year after netting 3 times in 27 Premier League appearances.

10. Memphis Depay

Another disastrous signing of the post-Fergie era, despite a highly successful stint in the Eredivisie with PSV Eindhoven. The winger made significant strides by the age of 21 and secured a £25 million deal, turning down Arsenal and Liverpool. The Dutch international asked for the iconic ‘number 7’ jersey but failed to capture the crowd’s imagination on the field as his miserable one and a half year spell saw him finding the net only twice in 33 league appearances. He was eventually offloaded to Ligue 1 heavyweights Lyon for an initial fee of around £16 million where his form has improved since the quality of opposition is weaker than England. 

Honourable Mentions

  • Radamel Falcao
  • Bastian Schweinsteiger
  • Morgan Schneiderlin
  • Wilfried Zaha
  • Anderson

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